The province's decision to dissolve a gambling awareness non-profit organization is being met with criticism.
The McNeil government made the move to dissolve Gambling Awareness Nova Scotia, and is instead shifting funds to the overall mental health and addictions budget.
According to the province's website, GANS was formed in 1998 as a not-for-profit, arms-length government organization for the purpose of receiving and distributing funds aimed at reducing the harmful effects of gambling.
Bruce Dienes, chair of Gambling Risk Informed Nova Scotia, said this is a real blow.
"Now they've changed it so that the funding is not specific to just gambling but it's being distributed to general mental health issues, including gambling," he said. "It's just a sequence over time of minimizing dissolving the impact of GANS and the accessibility of funding that they were managing."
Dr. Will Shead, associate professor of psychology at Mount Saint Vincent University, said while people need treatment options for gambling, the most effective way to reduce harm from gambling is through awareness and prevention initiatives.
"That's the type of things that were being funded by agencies like GANS so it's potentially problematic into a general funding for mental health because it minimizes gambling as a significant public health issue," said Shead.
In a statement to NEWS 95.7, the Department of Health and Wellness spokesperson Marla MacInnis said it is committed to reducing harms related to gambling and other addictions.
"Over the past 20 years, awareness and understanding of problem gambling and how best to support it has changed," said MacInnis. "Moving forward, annual funding for GANS will become part of the overall mental health and addictions budget to support Nova Scotians with problem gambling and other addictions."